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October 25, 2021 4:15 PM, EDT

ATA Celebrates Range of Trucking Leaders

Miles Larry Miles of John Christner Trucking received the Driver of the Year Award. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — American Trucking Associations presented its Driver of the Year Award and introduced the newest graduates of its professional leadership program Oct. 24 during its Management Conference & Exhibition.

Larry Miles of John Christner Trucking received the Driver of the Year Award. His career as a professional driver spans 57 years and includes more than 7 million accident-free miles. He now averages 140,000 miles per year. He started his career in 1961 hauling telephone poles in South Carolina. He also drove trucks in the Vietnam War while serving in the U.S. Army.

“Larry is more than deserving of this recognition. He has dedicated his life to driving safely,” said Dion Saiz, a professional driver at FedEx Freight, who presented the award. “He is a hardworking professional who is willing to share his experiences with his fellow drivers.”

The federation also presented the members of LEAD ATA, its yearlong professional training program that provides educational opportunities for trucking industry executives that incorporate problem solving and advanced industry insights.

“I hope you share the same excitement and enthusiasm I have for the future of this great industry and the LEAD ATA program for fostering the next generation of leaders who will take us to new heights,” said Jeremy Reymer, founder and CEO of DriverReach. “The trucking industry is at an inflection point. I recognize firsthand the importance of innovation and progress.”


The new LEAD ATA class. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

DriverReach recently became the main sponsor of the program, which is now in its ninth year.

This year’s class:

  • Lindsey Anderson, Ruan Transportation Management Systems
  • Lucas Connell, TCW Inc.
  • Alicia Echols, Bennett Heavy & Specialized
  • Lance Fausett, FedEx Freight
  • Christopher Gulker, TrueNorth Cos.
  • James Herzog, PSI Tire Inflation
  • Bruna Kramer, FedEx Ground
  • Robert Lester, USA Truck
  • Stephen Sanders, Cummins Inc.
  • Rachel Singleton, Ken Stabler Trucking
  • Joseph Skomorucha, U.S. Xpress Enterprises Inc.
  • Tyler Tigges, Great West Casualty Co.
  • Angela Tillery, FedEx Freight

Reymer said his company shares the training program’s pursuit to improve the hiring process by leveraging technology.

“If you want to evaluate its success, take a look at the impact and involvement the LEAD ATA alumni have maintained within this association,” Reymer said. “With representation on every committee, these leaders are definitely not satisfied with doing things the way they’ve always been done.”

Afterward the graduates of LEAD ATA 2021 were recognized:

  • Jenny Abernathy, CRST The Transportation Solution Inc.
  • Brandon Bibbs, U.S. Xpress Enterprises Inc.
  • Adam Blanchard, Double Diamond Transport Inc.
  • Wynne Breeden Jr., K.L. Breeden and Sons
  • Nick Card, Combined Transport Inc.
  • Frank Ems, FedEx Freight
  • Ryan Frederiksen, Ruan Transportation Management Systems
  • Justin Hill, Hill Transportation Services Inc.
  • Glen Lyles, FedEx Ground
  • Alexandra Mangino, Katz, Sapper & Miller
  • Shawn McCloud, Coyote (a UPS company)

Also the class of 2020 was belatedly recognized before peers since MCE was virtual last year due to the coronavirus pandemic:

  • Fausto Bizzarri, FedEx Ground
  • Lina Dejongh, Trimac Transportation
  • Matt Erim, Inc.
  • Andrew Erin, PGT Trucking Inc.
  • Brian Falter, Yellow
  • Nate Graglia, Wallport Transit Xpress Inc.
  • James Jaggers, UPS
  • Jake Newman, Newman Carriers
  • Michael Shipman, Vertical Alliance Group
  • Kailey Spangenberg, Conversion Interactive Agency

Bibbs and Dejongh then joined YRC Worldwide CEO Darren Hawkins for a panel discussion along with Amber Edmondson, president of Trailiner Corp. and a LEAD ATA 2019 graduate.

The discussion covered environmental issues, electric trucks and automation. But it mostly focused on how to expand interest in trucking careers in a way that is more diverse and attractive to younger professionals.

Bibbs explained that companies have to take the initiative internally and highlighted what his organization has been doing.

“U.S. Xpress has been extremely aggressive in tackling diversity and inclusion,” Bibbs said. “It is a very serious issue. We started our very first diversity and inclusion council. We’re about a year in. We’ve also hired our first chief diversity partner who is helping to make our organization be completely diverse.”

Dejongh added, “I think that Trimac has been ahead of it a bit. We have numerous people of different ethnicity, different genders in VP roles and different roles like that. I think where we can do better is — I worked at four different terminals and of those four terminals and all the drivers that I’ve dealt with, I’ve seen a handful of women drivers.”

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